THE ROOKIE (2002)
Major League Dreams
Release Date: March 29, 2002
Audience: Older children and adults
Runtime: 135 minutes
Distributor: Buena Vista/Walt Disney
Director: John Lee Hancock
Executive Producer: Philip Steuer
Writer: Mike Rich
Address Comments To:Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 81521
Quaid plays the role of true-life baseball legend, pitcher Jimmy Morris. As the son of a military man, Jimmy is forced to interrupt his love of baseball by moving several times with his family, until he finally lands squarely in Big Lake, Texas, a town with no baseball of which to speak. Jimmy finds out, though, that the town has an old baseball field, now occupied by an oil derrick. Decades earlier, two nuns had blessed, prayed and tossed flower petals over the field, invoking the blessings of Saint Rita, the “patron saint of impossible dreams.”
Jimmy’s father is a gruff man, who says to Jimmy as he frantically looks through moving boxes for his baseball glove, “There are more important things in life than baseball. The sooner you figure that out, the better.” Jimmy continues to treat his father with respectful “Yes, sirs,” but inside the young boy is crushed. As grace would have it, though, a kind, fatherly store-owner in the new town takes Jimmy under his wing, tells him the story of the nuns’ blessing, and encourages him by ordering Jimmy baseball supplies out of a catalog.
Cut to Jimmy as an adult with a wife and a child. Apparently, his childhood baseball history is spotty, with four shoulder surgeries and having been drafted into the military for awhile years ago. The love of baseball is still in Jimmy, however. He practices alone at night, in a field near the high school where he coaches.
One day, one of the boys on Jimmy’s team admits he has seen the coach pitch in his nighttime practice sessions. He offers to catch for Jimmy after the high school team’s practice. Since Jimmy had promised his wife and many doctors that he wouldn’t really pitch, he declines, but the boy is insistent, and baseball is in Jimmy’s blood, so he complies. He throws his best pitch to the boy, and there is a most satisfying “thwap” into the glove of the surprised catcher. Jimmy continues to throw fast balls, one after another, finally quitting and pleading with the student to keep it all a secret.
The secret gets out, though, and Jimmy’s boys are hard after him to re-ignite his dreams of going further with the sport. The guys make a deal with their coach. If they move from a losing team to winning the district title, then Jimmy will try out for the Minor Leagues.
Jimmy has many discussions with his mother, now divorced, and she tries to convince him not to blame his father for all his faults. “You think he didn’t have dreams,” she asks her son. Despite his own poor father figure, though, Jimmy becomes a wonderful father to his own children, bringing his son with him to almost every practice and every game.
One day he gets an offer to coach in a great school district in Fort Worth, Texas. He is considering the job, when his boys manage to win the district title, and they now make him keep up his end of the bargain by auditioning for the Minor Leagues. So, unknown to his wife, he and his (now three) children set out for San Angelo, Texas, and he auditions. Jimmy is then faced with a decision. Should he teach baseball in a well-paying, respectable Texas school or keep struggling in the minors, hoping to be chosen for the Major Leagues and risking everything all on his big dream?
THE ROOKIE is a fabulous movie, pulling the heart into a journey that everyone must take and a question everyone must all ask: How hard am I willing to go for the big dreams, to work to ignore the odds that laugh ironically in the face of the vision’s fulfillment?
Dennis Quaid is perfect in his role of Jimmy Morris. His character is a wonderful husband, father, friend, and coach, not to mention a fine ball player. With prayer, blessings, teamwork, and family values, this movie should be a major league hit with many viewers.
The only illogical plot development was when Jimmy turned out to be such a terrific father, even though his own father was distant, gruff and insensitive. Regrettably, this is not a real-life pattern. Poor parenting usually begets poor parenting, unless, by the grace of God, true changes are allowed to be brought about through the cross, forgiveness and restoration. Although Jimmy does find some restoration with his dad at the end, and he does have a great father figure in the storeowner, his bitterness toward all the things he missed with his real father is readily apparent throughout most of the movie. Of course, time and Jesus Christ can heal all wounds. It is better to have a biblical faith in God than faith in fallible men, because the Creator God of the Bible is the ultimate source of everything good in life.
One important point for Media-Wise parents to discuss with their children, however, is the fact that sports can truly become an idol in our lives. Jimmy’s father was right when he said that there are more important things in life. He missed the most important thing of all, however, which is to “love the Lord God with all your heart and soul and mind and being, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Beyond these minor considerations, the movie is so good and so well-made, that it should win many awards. It also serves as a telling example to Hollywood that clean, biblically-based, pro-family movies can be the hottest ticket in town. Please support such a message with your box office dollars.
THE ROOKIE contains heartfelt storytelling and excellent performances. It also extols the virtues of family, blessings, commitment, hope, and prayer. Dennis Quaid is perfect in his role as Jimmy Morris. His character is a wonderful husband, father, friend, and coach, not to mention a fine ball player. THE ROOKIE is a telling example that biblically-based, clean, pro-family movies can be the hottest ticket in town.